NaPoWriMo prompt is followed by my poem of the fifteenth day, the halfway point in this invitation to write from an unusual prompt.
on APRIL 15, 2013
Hello, everyone. Today marks the halfway point of NaPoWriMo. I hope your writing is going well!
Our featured link for the day is the Adademy of American Poets’ portal on poetic schools and movements. Don’t know your Russian Acmeists from your Imagists or Metaphysicals? This page will help you sort it all out.
Our featured participant’s blog is Lips and daggers, where Libby Loucks is working on a series of 14-word poems — often she posts four or five a day! It’s sort of like NaPoWriMo Plus.
And now our (again — totally optional) prompt! Today, I challenge you to write a pantun. Not a pantoum— though they are related. The pantun is a traditional Malay form, a style of which was later adapted into French and then English as the pantoum. A pantun consists of rhymed quatrains (abab), with 8-12 syllables per line. The first two lines of each quatrain aren’t meant to have a formal, logical link to the second two lines, although the two halves of each quatrain are supposed to have an imaginative or imagistic connection. Here’s an example:
I planted sweet-basil in mid-field.
Grown, it swarmed with ants,
I loved but am not loved,
I am all confused and helpless.*
The associative leap from the first couplet to the second allows for a great deal of surprise and also helps give the poems are very mysterious and lyrical quality. Try your hand at just one quatrain, or a bunch of them, and see how you do!
* It’s been pointed out that the example doesn’t rhyme, and its syllable count is suspect. All I can say is that it is a translation from a poem in Malay. A transliteration of the original is below–
Tanam selasih di tengah padang,
Sudah bertangkai diurung semut,
Kita kasih orang tak sayang,
Halai-balai tempurung hanyut.
As you can see, in the original, the abab rhyme is present, and the syllable count is right. Our translator appears to have been more concerned with substance than style! At any rate, I apologize for any confusion.
Art: John William Waterhouse
I planted sweet roses along the trellis.
Overgrown, they hang heavy with bees.
I sought but am not sought, jealous.
I am lost as night birds sing, on my knees.